HEARTS boss Craig Levein sprang a couple of surprises in his side.
The Jambos showed two changes from the team which was beaten 3-1 by Rangers at Ibrox the previous weekend, Andy Webster and Steve Fulton dropping to the bench.
Webster had started the last 15 matches with Levein employing a 3-5-2 formation but his absence indicated a switch to a 4-4-2 system and the recall of Gary Wales to partner Ricardo Fuller in attack. After seven minutes, the opening goal, which the positive start from the Jambos had merited, arrived from the penalty spot.
Fuller gathered possession just outside the box on the right-hand side of the area and as he attempted to skip round Kevin McGowne, the big defender sent the striker tumbling to the ground with what appeared to be a bodycheck.
Stephen Simmons stepped up to hammer home the award, his second penalty strike in successive games.
Kilmarnock started to force their way into the match but Hearts hit them with a sucker punch to double their advantage in the 25th minute.
Antti Niemi’s clearance was flicked on by Simmons towards Fuller. The Jamaican looked likely to lose out in the race for the ball with Freddy Dindeleux but he outpaced the defender before slotting home past Gordon Marshall for his second goal for the club.
As the game moved into injury time there was concern when Fuller went down in agony after a save from Marshall at his feet. A stretcher was called for and the frontman was carried off to receive attention.
The sight of Fuller running out with the rest of his team-mates at the start of the second half was met by a large cheer from the home supporters, the striker having clearly recovered from his earlier knock.
Killie huffed and puffed to regain some sort of foothold and youngster Stevie Murray did well to lay the ball back into the path of Ally Mitchell on the edge of the Hearts box. However, the midfielder’s left-foot shot flew out near the corner flag to bring howls of derision from the home fans.
It was all Hearts towards the end and Thomas Flogel tried his luck from long range but his shot flew wide of target but the three points were secured.